**Disclaimer: I received a free early access copy of Gray by Arvind Ethan David through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for this opportunity.
Gray by Arvind Ethan David is a Dorian Gray retelling set in a modern era in a graphic novel format. It’s set to be published on July 13th, 2021. I rated it three stars on Goodreads.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
A contemporary reimaging of the classic Oscar Wilde novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” Gray is a supernatural revenge thriller about an alluring but violent woman, Dorian Gray, who seeks vengeance on a cabal of powerful men who wronged her years ago; and of the straight-laced African American detective with a past of his own, who is tasked with stopping her.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde’s only novel and one of the classics of gothic literature, is the tale of the most beautiful man of his age, who sells his soul and his conscience in exchange for eternal youth, beauty and power – and who spends his life murdering, raping and corrupting. All the time in his attic, his picture degrades and rots.
GRAY takes that basic idea but flips its moral framework and gender archetypes: our DORIAN GRAY is a Millennial social media princess who drifts through the coolest cliques of NYC, breaking hearts and turning heads wherever she goes. But Dorian has secrets. For one thing, she’s a violent criminal. For another, she’s an immortal creature of magic, who commits violent burglaries and assaults some of New York’s most powerful men.
30 years ago, whilst an innocent student, Dorian was sexually assaulted by these men. In that moment that she became something both more and less than human. 30 years later, but not a day older, she’s ready for her revenge. Then Dorian meets Detective HANK WUTAN, the African-American NYPD detective assigned to stop these crimes, struggling with his own loyalties as a Black cop in the era of Defund the Police. Despite the fact that Dorian is his suspect number one, and he is effectively working for her abusers, they fall for each other, hard.
GRAY takes Wilde’s classic novel and reinvents it as a tale of cathartic revenge for the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter era, a violent fantasy about how powerful, super-rich white men don’t always win, how the powerless can find justice, and about how a murderous demon and a law-abiding detective can be soul mates.
I will admit that I haven’t read The Picture of Dorian Gray, however, I am a sucker for a retelling. I was intrigued by the premise of this graphic novel, and it seemed like it was going to do a lot. I was really exciting about all of what it was promising.
It was a really interesting story. I did enjoy the way that the art was drawn and the way there were details layered and revealed slowly and subtly. It was a little confusing at first as to what was going to happen and what exactly was going on. However, it did pretty quickly become clear in some aspects, though not in others.
This was clearly on it’s way to being a series, and so while it had huge promises in the summary on Goodreads, it didn’t really live up to all of those because it’s the first in the series. There’s nothing really wrong with that, but the Goodreads summary/page was misleading because it doesn’t indicate that it’s going to be a series. I wanted more to happen, and was left disappointed with the cliff hanger ending.
I liked the main detective character, and I was intrigued by the character of Dorian Gray. However, there wasn’t enough time to build up their characterization. I just really wanted more.
That being said, I will definitely want to continue with the series. I like the premise a lot and I really want to see how the mystery turns out.
If you’re at all intrigued, definitely check it out. However, remember that it’s the first in a series and there will be more to come with it.